Miller v. Ford Motor Co. 2018
Ms. Miller bought a Ford Escape in 2001. It was manufactured in Missouri. The Ford caught fire sitting in Ms. Miller’s garage one night in May, 2012 because of a faulty electronic sensor; the fire spread to her home, and she broke her heel escaping the blaze. She filed an action for defective product against Ford, and Ford pointed to the Oregon “statute of ultimate repose,” which says you can’t file a defective product lawsuit more than ten years after the defective product was first sold to a consumer. The fire in Ms. Miller’s garage broke out 11 years after she bought the Ford. But the law also says that, if the state where the defective product was manufactured has a longer statute of ultimate repose than Oregon’s ten years, the law from the state of manufacture applies. Missouri has no statute of ultimate repose for defective product cases, so Ms. Miller argued that law should apply, and there should be no bar to her filing suit. The case found its way to the Oregon Supreme Court, where TCNF partner Jim Coon argued, amicus curiae on behalf of the Oregon Trial Lawyers’ Association, that the Oregon statute fairly required application of the law of Missouri, the state where Ford made the Escape and should have expected the local law to apply. The supreme court agreed in a decision issued June 7, 2018, and Ford settled Ms. Miller’s injury claim. Now, for defective products made in the majority of U. S. states that have no statute of ultimate repose, Oregonians will not lose their rights when they suffer injury more than ten years after the date the product was first purchased.